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Full text of "Lute and furrow"

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LUTE 

AND 

FURROW m 

OLIVE TILFORD IBl^lmfk 
^s^ DARGAN ^^^ 




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GojpightN"- 



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COEXRIGHT DEPOSm 



BY OLIVE TILFORD DARGAN 



THE MORTAL GODS AND OTHER PLAYS 
LORDS AND LOVERS AND OTHER DRAMAS 
THE CYCLE'S RIM 

THE PATH FLOWER AND OTHER VERSE 
LUTE AND FURROW 



With Frederic Peterson 

THE FLUTTER OF THE GOLD LEAF AND 
OTHER PLAYS 



CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



LUTE AND FURROW 



LUTE AND FURROW 



BY 
OLIVE TILFORD DARGAN 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1922 



3^0*^ 






Copyright, 1922, by 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



Printed in the United States of America 



Published May, 1922 




SEP 29 '22 



©CI.A681994 



CONTENTS 



Lute and Furrow 


. 


. 




3 


"It Will Be a Hard Winter" 




9 


In an Alms-House Garden 




12 


Francesca (1904-1917) 






• 13 


To A Texas Primrose 








^3 


Ballad of a Wooing 








26 


Evening above Saranac 








28 


Job 31 : I . 








• 29 


On Clingman Dome . 








30 


Song 








32 


After the Game 








2>d> 


Returning 








35 


The New Freedom . 








36 


The Fourth Watch . 








37 


Doris .... 








39 


My Lawyer 








40 



CONTENTS 



"Helen's Lips are Drifting Dust" 




PAGE 
41 


The Pierian Spring To-day 


41 


Sallys Gap 






42 


Twilight under Black Cap 






49 


Compact .... 






55 


Listeners .... 






56 


To A Young Girl 






57 


Italy . ... 






58 


Astray .... 






60 


Fatherland 






61 


Defiance . 






. 63 



II 



Laughter .... 


. 69 


On the Mountain . 


. 71 


I Take a Walk 


• 72 


The God .... 


. 76 


We Creators . 


. 79 


Attention 


. 79 



VI 



CONTENTS 



Twilight ..... 






PAGE 
80 


When Lying on a Bank of Twin-Flowers 8o 


Evvie's Mother 8i 


Pace Tua .... 






85 


Snow in the Cotton Field 






89 


The Poem 






90 


August Evening 






91 


Advice .... 






92 


On Certain State Advisers 


and 


Thei] 


^ 


Public 






93 


The Arctic Girl 






. 94 


Apology .... 






95 


Who Shall Measure? 






. 96 


Kartajaya 






• 97 


Tolstoi .... 






. 98 


Burning Bridges 






• 99 



III 

In the Black Country 
Home 

vii 



105 
108 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

En Route ...... no 

The Coming ...... 113 

Ballad of Trafalgar Square . . • 115 

IV 

Innis-Loe ....... 125 

Released ...... 128 



The Sea Asks 



133 



To John Reed ..... 139 



Vlll 



LUTE AND FURROW 

I 

The winter has grown so still 
I can stand at the foot of the hill 
Where the stream beneath the bridge 
Is dry as a heart after grief, 
And hear at the top of the ridge 
The wind as it lifts a leaf. 

At last there is time, I say; 

I will shut out the strife to-day; 

I will take up my pen and once more 

Meet that stranger, my soul, nor be dumb 

As when earth was the whirlwind's floor, 

And Life at her loom sat numb. 

Springs, many as ever have been, 
On sandals of moss shall slip in; 
There is time for the laugh we would fling, 
3 



LUTE AND FURROW 

For the wiping of dust from our stars, 
For a bee on his marketing wing, 
For the forester wind's wild wares. 

Comes the joy and the rushing pulse 
That in beauty's beginning exults; 
Then the weight tied fast to the heart; 
The doubt that deadens the dawn; 
And the raining sting and the smart 
Of invisible whips laid on. 

II 

What is this sudden gaiety that shakes the greyest 

boughs ? 
A voice is calling fieldward, 'tis time to start the 

ploughs ! 
To set the furrows rolling while all the old crows 

nod, 
And deep as life, the kernel, to cut the golden 

sod! 
The pen, let nations have it, — we'll plough awhile 

for God. 

4 



LUTE AND FURROW 

When half the things that must be done are greater 
than our art, 

And half the things that must be done are smaller 
than our heart, 

And poorest gifts are dear to burn on altars un- 
revealed. 

Like music comes the summons, the challenge from 
the weald, — 

"They tread immortal measure who make a mel- 
low field!" 

The planet may be pleasant, alluring in its way; 

But let the ploughs be idle, and none of us can 
stay. 

Here's where there is no doubting, no ghosts un- 
certain stalk, 

A-travelling with the plough beam, beneath the 
sailing hawk. 

Cutting the furrow deep and true where Destiny 
will walk. 



LUTE AND FURROW 

III 

The winter has grown so still 
I can pause and pluck what I will 
From the arms of Time as he goes. 
All the poems with beauty half-hid, 
Yet touching my haste like a rose, 
May fall to me now if I bid. 

There's the book whose pages shall read 

Like the hearts of old friends, who will need 

For its quaint flowered paths no guide, 

And into the late, sweet night 

Will smile as they lay it aside — 

The book that they once meant to write; 

And one that may haunt a strange road. 
Like a voice blown low from a wood. 
And be song to the wanderer there, 
Till the inn is a dark thing and cold. 
And the night is a roof-tree dear, 
And the moon his hearth of warm gold; 

6 



LUTE AND FURROW 

And that other whose music may be 

As a flight of birds to the sea; 

To the far island beaches made brave 

With the feet of to-morrows; where strain 

The lifters of stone from the grave 

Of the world we have dreamed us and slain. 

IV 

Reproach is dark upon me; I almost grasp the pen; 

When comes a laugh like daybreak, and "Winter's 
broke," says Len. 

His eye is like a highpriest's as glowingly he 'lows 

He saw a bat by daylight fly roun' the pigeon- 
house. 

"Ain't no time now for foolin', we got to start the 
ploughs." 

We'll set the furrows rolling, and drop the yellow 

corn; 
We'll plough along the universe that babies may be 

born. 
Ay, no more time for fooling, here's task without 

a bound; 

7 



LUTE AND FURROW 

It's not the tame old earth now that's spinning us 

around; 
It's Jupiter and Neptune when the plough is in the 

ground. 

How light, how light the heart grows with some- 
thing surely done ! 

When all the ploughs are going, and all the tasks 
are one ! 

Then Fame's a lass that smirks too late; the sun's 
a brother lout; 

The moon's a lantern in our hand; the stars are 
fieldmen stout. 

Oh, luck to die in ploughing time, — 'twill be just 
one step out ! 



'IT WILL BE A HARD WINTER*' 

They say the blue king jays have flown 

From woods of Westchester; 

So I to Luthany shall flee, 

But I will make no stir; 

For who fair Luthany would see 

Must set him forth alone. 

In screwing winds last night the snow 

Creaked like an angry jinn; 

And two old men from up the State, 

Said "Bears went early in"; 

Half pausing by my ice-locked gate; 

"March will be late to blow." 

So I for Luthany am bound; 
But I will take no pack. 
You can not find the way, you know. 
With feet that leave a track; 
But light as blowing leaf must go; 
And you must hear a sound 
9 



'IT WILL BE A HARD WINTER'' 

That's like a singing strange and high 

Of bird youVe never seen; 

Then two ghosts come; like doves they move; 

While you must walk between; 

And one is Youth and one is Love, 

Who say "We did not die." 

The harp-built walls of Luthany 
Are builded high and strong 
To shelter singer, fool and seer. 
And glad they live and long. 
All others die who enter there, 
But they are safe, these three. 

The seer can warm his body through 

By some far fire he sees; 

The fool can naked dance in snow; 

The singer — as he please ! 

And which I be of these, Oh ho ! 

That is a guess for you. 

Once in a thousand years, they say, 
The walls are beaten down; 
lo 



IT WILL BE A HARD WINTER" 

And then they find a singer dead, 
But swift they set a crown 
Upon his lowly careless head, 
And sing his song for aye. 

So I to Luthany shall flee, 
While here the winter raves; 
God send I go not as one blind 
A-dancing upon graves; 
God save a madman if I find 
War's heel on Luthany. 

1917 



II 



IN AN ALMS-HOUSE GARDEN 

Here gnarled old men as stooped as trees 

Youth wounded, not to die, 
Quaver the old philosophies, 

And drift around the sky. 

Or glad, so glad, since work is done, 

And no man knows his grave. 
They sit a little in the sun. 

And watch the warm grass wave. 



12 



FRANCESCA 

(1904-1917) 

I 

Sweet of the dawn is she ! 
Sure of her garlands fair, 
Sure of her morning brief, 
With what an air 
She hands Eternity 
A bud, a leaf ! 

Far down a world wound-red 
All unappalled she looks; 
Where I stare barrenly 
She beauty plucks 
From an untrampled bed, 
Till suddenly I see. 

Once more a star shall break 
For me the crocus* mould; 
The full year's end sleep in 
A marigold; 

13 



FRANCESCA 

And firs in the snow wood shake 
Locks of genie and jinn. 

Again over earth and me 

Shall fall the coverlet 

Spread by a godmother moon, 

Till we forget 

The thin, gold irony 

That hid nor scar nor bone. 

How sweet with her to climb 
Youth's pilotless old trail ! 
Along sky ledges haste. 
Palms to the gale 
That showers song and rhyme 
As petals blow and waste ! 

And when in mothy light 
Of trees and listening dusk, 
I see her filmy go 
To him, her knight. 
What sap of bloom shall flow 
Into dream's silvered husk ! 
14 



FRANCESCA 

What if, at her matron knee 
In some yet covered year, 
The bardling I never bore 
Has sound of the hidden sea 
That calls till a heart, or a sphere, 
Is dumb no more? 

My wand is she that smites 
Open the prophet's wall; 
My arrow in the sun. 
Sped for no fall; 
My bird along the heights 
Where I shall never run ! 

II 

She sleeps now. 

Her hair, vaguely hooding her cheek, 

Fills me with strange music, 

Like the dark-flowing water of snow fields. 

Her brow, that was mere, frail porcelain, 

Holding a child's few treasures, 

Is a pale, prophetic expanse 

Over dreams that bide their vast venture. 

15 



FRANCESCA 

I gaze long at the face, 

Thinking at last I shall know her; 

For awake she is always hiding 

In ripples and pools of change. 

Waves of April flow round her, 

And she is my willow witch 

Weaving her web of winds 

Above the blue water; 

But she lifts her eyes. 

Like two hours of June, 

And is so nearly a rose 

That to-morrow the dawn will be lapping 

Gold from her open heart; 

Then a laugh like Christmas day 

Shuffles the seasons. 

And I see chrysanthemums in a Southern garden; 

White breasts in the dusk. 

But now she sleeps; no, stirs; 
Stirs with the covetous fever 
That creeps like a secret panther 
By the wariest watch of lovers. 

i6 



FRANCESCA 

"Talk to me, Tifa, talk." 
"Of what, dear Beauty?" 
"Oh, that is it — beauty." 
I lose a whisper and wait. 

"The song — the song we heard " 

And I know I must tell again 

The story of the bird, a lowland rover 

That high above our mountain orchard 

Sang till a cadent coast 

Lay on the unbodied air, 

And all our outbound dreams put back 

Where his music made a shore. 

(Words, words! So soft that they may fall on 
pain 
And make it less ! Softer than leaves 
Tapping a forest sleeper; while the heart 
Is like a swollen glacier crowding earth.) 

Up he went singing; climbed a spiral chain 
That linked his song to heaven; 
And circling, swerving, rising, built 

17 



FRANCESCA 

An airy masonry of smoothest domes 
And jetting minarets, as though he saw 
From his blue height a city of the East, 
And in a music mirror set it fair 
For his high rapture. How it grew ! 
Slim, flowing alleys, streets that wound 
To temples cool as shaded lakes; 
Pure arches, pillars of piled notes; 
Cornice and frieze and pendant flung 
In rillets from one tiny heart 
As prodigal as God's ! 

What, dearest? When you die. 
You* II stop and live there? Not go on 
To Heaven? 

No; you remember 
Our city fell; came splintering to the grass 
With all its palaces and domes; 
Not one note on another. 
Where he, the breathless builder, fluttered, 
Happy in ruin. 

i8 



FRANCESCA 

Yes, he panted so ? 
Tell you cool things ? 

(Words, words ! 
Running like water under leaves, 
That they may fall on pain 
And make it less !) 

Cool, my whisperer? 
Then shall we walk again 
Between the winter and the clifF 
Where green things clung? — the little venturers 
That feed on shade, and tug at scornful boulders 
Till they are gay and gentle? 
They were all there, lustrous and shyly brave; 
The fronds and tresses, fingers and baby's palm; 
The curling tufts, the plumelets proudly niched, 
And little unknown leaves 
That make the cold their mother; 
The hearts and lances and unpious spires 
The emerald gates to houses of the gnomes; 
The fairy tents that vanish at a name; 
Each greener than Spring's footprint when her track 

19 



FRANCESCA 

Is bright as sea- wet beryl; 

Yet wearing like an outer soul 

A breath of crystal winter. 

So pearled, they waited; 

Small subject wonderers of a land 

Whose king was out o* doors 

And would betimes go by. 

He came — the sun ! 

The swift, old marvel of the sun ! 

And you were still as every leaf he touched 

Long after his gold passing. 

Yes, your breath 
Went all away into the shining? 
God spoke too loud that time? Tell you — 

Sleep holds her. . . . 
But sleep comes creeping, and takes 
No sudden throne. If it be not sleep, 
But the other? . . . 

I sit in the folds of a dread, 
As in a husk that widens 
And swells till it strikes the sky. 
20 



FRANCESCA 

Who is it standing, a fiend 

Like a mountain darkening upward, 

Dropping and dropping and dropping 

The ocean into a glass? 

Why are the walls so near and so cold? 

So wavering greenish and white? 

Why are they rocking, and covered with shadows 

That mightily grasp and fade? 

... I know. We are under the sea. 

Like a petal her face goes drifting; 

A white rose petal that swirls away. 

Far up is the water's clear surface; 

High up, where the sky used to be; 

And above it lies the good air. 

We must climb, my heavenliest . . . climb ! 

We can not breathe . . . down here. . . . 

Under the sea. 

Ill 

If Death had taken my orange tree, 
Its gold-lit boughs, and magic birds 
Singing for me, 

21 



FRANCESCA 

I would not bear, though bright the dead, 
This daunted head. 

If Death had taken the one whose care 
My fortune feeds, my roof endows, — 
Leaving me bare, — 

I'd meet the world from some kind door. 
Gay as before. 

If Death had taken my friend, the god 
Who walks among us masked as man. 
Wearing the clod 
To find his brother, I could live, 
Love and forgive. 

But she was Beauty; planets swing. 
And ages toil, that one like her 
May make dust sing; 
And I, who held her hand, must go 
Alone and know. 



22 



TO A TEXAS PRIMROSE 

A FLAKE of cloud was trembling cast 
Where April walked in dew; 

Earth loved the alien, made it fast; 
It blushed, and then was you. 

So light it seems you'd upward go; 

Then tender turn and cling, 
And like a maid at nod and no, 

Grow sweeter wavering. 

Still in two worlds you hold a dower; 

The snowdrop of the air 
And rose of earth, here in one flower 

A double beauty dare. 

But this thing lack you. (May it be 
You will not lack it long !) 

You've no estate in poesy; 
No pedigree in song. 

23 



TO A TEXAS PRIMROSE 

What lovers of the stern frontier 

Here halted, no less brave 
For wondering how you'd glowing cheer 

An uncompanioned grave ? 

Heroes, but not of those who go 

To conquest pen in hand. 
So left your loveliness to blow 

Unmeasured and unscanned. 

Your robe, though royal from old time 

Ere rose and daffodil. 
Must, for the want of broidered rhyme, 

Kirtle a gypsy still. 

So shyly glowing, meekly gay, 

And so for music meet, 
I wonder what would happen, say, 

If I were Herrick, sweet. 

Surely he'd smuggle you somehow 

Into the Muses' hall. 
And proud court flowers there should bow 

To a new queen lineal. 

24 



TO A TEXAS PRIMROSE 

With hint and smile he'd fix your sound 

Unquestioned dynasty, 
Sending the happy whisper round, 

Beauty is pedigree. 

And Grasmere's sage, if hereabout 
He found your face at dawn. 

Would silent sit the full day out. 
And dark would come too soon. 

Then mumbling home he'd take you too. 

Imprisoned in a line; 
No more would you need sun or dew 

Who there so fixed would shine. 

delicate barbarian, 
I've no immortal art 

To sing you as the laurelled can, 
But travel in my heart. 

And though my way be bare and brown, 
And miles grow long for me, 

1 vow I will not set you down 
This side of Castaly. 

25 



BALLAD OF A WOOING 

O PROUDLY shall my lady tread ! 
These golden shoes I'll give her, 
My silver harp, my ruby red, 
My castles by the river. 

But when he met her on the hills, 
Down coming like a lily's flame, 
Her bare feet mid the daffodils. 
His golden shoes he hid for shame. 

How could he sing of castles drear, 
Who with the wild bee found her? 
His silver harp how could she hear. 
With all God's birds around her? 

And when he heard her heart beat high. 
And knew how it could bleed. 
He cast his ruby far to lie 
Forgot with clod and weed. 
26 



BALLAD OF A WOOING 

Then sought with fasting eyes to share 
The heaven in her own; 
And as she passed, upon the air 
There fell a beggar's moan. 



27 



EVENING ABOVE SARANAC 

Thou, unhorlzoned as eternity, 
Yet of time's rounded hour thy mirror making, 
Thy heart the sun, thy hand the gathering sea, 
Yet in a flower thine ample lodging taking; 
Thou who dost vein the marble and the leaf, 
Mak'st thought and dream shine through the 

jungle's scarring, 
Till from a scented reed, as summer brief, 
Man breathes the forest some dim star is wearing; 
These are thy shadows; here I strip me free 
Of myths and days; of grieving and of fearing; 
Tatters of fame, and love that bannered me; 
Here bare me as the moonlight, only hearing, 
As in thy music, universes flow. 
And even as music to thy silence go. 



28 



JOB 31 : 1 

The prophet's lips are wan as winds 

Whose fury has been spent for long; 

His voice is faint as buried sins, 

Too faint to sound above a song; 

His hand, raised toward the starry coasts. 

Thins like a ghost's. 

The maiden's eyes are brov/n as hay, 
With edges burnt to tender gold; 
Her lips are coals where red life gay 
Laughs at the stars so far, so old. 
And Youth who has no world to lose 
Is asked to choose. 



29 



ON CLINGMAN DOME 

The balsam buds are bluer 
From leaning on the sky; 

With faces nearer, truer, 
The stars pass cousinly. 

And here on moss like heather, 
As fragrant and as deep. 

Safe in the tender weather. 
The baby angels sleep. 

They curl and tumble near me, 
Like little laughing flames; 

They nudge and do not fear me. 
And whisper me their names. 

When with the dawn I waken, 

I hear them scurrying. 
And stare just half mistaken 

Where leaves shine like a wing. 
30 



ON CLINGMAN DOME 

God's truants, but forgiven; 

For all day long I see 
A silver door in heaven 

Lean open coaxingly. 



31 



SONG 

The bird upon the ocean waste 

With straining wing, 
Fails not for in her breast 
She bears an unbuilt nest, 

A bough of Spring. 

And I who travel toward a west 

That has no sun. 
Faint not for in my breast 
Thy love is still my rest 

And harbor won. 



32 



AFTER THE GAME 

What Is it, Youth, that I regret? 
Master of gifts, and leaving none? 
Is it the feet that lightly set 
Their print where mountain brows were wet 
With dewy mirrors of the moon? 
Bearing a soul importunate 

To smite the blue sky stone that is the gods* shut 
gate? 

Or mourn I most that braver day, 

Imperious, and perilling 

My hope that flung an upward lay. 

From trails of vision challenging; 

And valiant went the gauntlet way 

Past flame and spear; enraptured driven 

To set drab tents of man fair on a ridge of heaven? 

When destiny, struck by desire, 
Rang back, a bell of magic tone? 
When love let no man walk alone, 

33 



AFTER THE GAME 

And every heart held altar fire, 

For every heart was yet my own 

That grew, as flames grow, round the earth 

With fast exultant beat of multitudinous birth ? 

Or dearer aches my loss when shy 

Ghost hours lead to an idle brook, 

Where pale with song's sped shaft I lie, 

And with eternal wonder look 

Upon a moth-wing's brevity, 

Careless against the infinite 

Heaven of a leaf, and tremble watching it ? 

Regret, O bee that comes with age 
From faded fields to sting again 
To pain's swift red the heritage 
That once was April light to men, 
When will you coldly pass me? — when 
Leave me to twilight and the dumb 
Strange gaze of stars that care not who may go or 
come? 



34 



RETURNING 

When I came back to my hills, 

The sun was red on the Great Boar's tusk. 

And all his children at his feet 

Were bonnetted in dusk. 

Thin little fragrances stole out, 

Like mist I could not see. 

But Twilight caught them round her throat 

Before they strangled me. 



35 



THE NEW FREEDOM 

Now all the ways are open, 
And we may ramble in; 

Garden and ivory temple. 
And the silken doors of sin. 

No wondering by a door-step, 

No latticed mystery; 
No gray portcullis guarding 

Dream's gold for you and me. 

By the path into the forest 

Where four blind windows wait, 

The silence has no secret, 
Down is the briared gate. 

How bare the world is grown now. 
Without a bar or pin ! 

No little doors at twilight 
We may not enter in. 

(To W. C. B. 

On the publication of 
" Standards.") 

36 



THE FOURTH WATCH 

Where shall I find thee, Joy, 

Who loved me long and well? 

What rout doth now employ 

Thine elfin foot and bell? 

Shall I who shared thy bower. 

From all thy fields have not one flower? 

Spring in her gown of leaves 
Is naked without thee; 
Summer with all her sheaves 
Goes starving beggarly; 
Music along my path 
In all her notes no echo hath. 

O Life, thy palsy lies 
In me, not in the leaf. 
O Time, thy passing dries 
My heart and not the sheaf. 
Music, thou 'It take no room 
In hearts that tent too near the tomb. 
37 



THE FOURTH WATCH 

O days too young for fear, 

O quivering bloom of sky, 

O lover at mine ear, 

Vanished so utterly ! 

Nay, let me die, and then 

Joy, thou and I shall forth again. 



38 



DORIS 

The ghost of Love walks by her, 
To church and to the play. 
With pipe and chuckle nigh her. 
The twilights go his way. 

Admire his ease in carving; 
His smile by candle light. 
He has no thought of starving, 
This ghost with appetite. 

But Love's red heart goes burning 
Where the wild road sings no more; 
And there'll be no returning; 
A ghost guards well his door. 



39 



MY LAWYER 

When he seeks to act 
He stumbles on a prison; 
Darkness is his fact, 
Though twenty suns be risen. 

Halting, — action's fever 
Caged and bound and bowed,- 
He is free as ever 
Sailed Uranian cloud. 



40 



"HELEN'S LIPS ARE DRIFTING 
DUST"* 

O TELL me, Helen, what is this 
Strange dust they say thy beauty is, 
When hearts who do not hold thee must 
Indeed be hearts of dust? 



THE PIERIAN SPRING TO-DAY 

The Muse has left the trampled brink 

For a deeper wood 

And solitude's sweet food; 

But still we come in hordes. 

With dippers, cups and gourds. 

And drink, and drink. 

* Frederic Laurence Knowles 



41 



SALLYS GAP 

From trough to tip the gap is thick with laurel, 
And black raccoons hide in blue granite dens; 
And there's a spot where, if you chance to draw 

well, 
You may, some afternoon with pad and pens, 
Your head in shade, your feet in sunny sorrel, 
Fake us a little cove in Sicily, 
More cool to dream in, though, alas, no sea ! 

You hear the bees hum skyward in the poplars. 

Making the sweetest honey of the year. 

And watch a cloud that like a tinted mop blurs 

A neighbor mountain's bold and green half-sphere 

With freakish push and start, and with a drop leers 

In at the cabin doors, or dares to take 

A roll in gardens, like a playing lake. 

And there's a sound so near it seems to bubble 
Out of your heart and tingle through your skin. 

42 



SALL'S GAP 

You creep around the lin that rises double 
And where a clump of forest lilies thin 
Themselves to three that rise with little trouble 
To a graceful score of feet before they droop 
Their spotted heads, you catch your breath and 
stoop; 

For you have found it; found the mossy parting 

Where a mountain rillet breaks into the light; 

An infant on its seaward way outstarting. 

You might with half your fingers dam its flight, 

So slenderly begins its silver darting. 

But how your soul would chide you if you did. 

Keeping such bright ambition muddied, hid ! 

And it is yours; here from this gay beginning 
This crystal rover with a singing tongue; 
This rebel from the hill's heart that goes winning 
Its way round clutching roots with growing song 
That will not give the veery one clear inning; 
Yours every drop of blue and pearl that links It, 
Down to the broad, brown stream that coolly 
drinks it. 

43 



SALL'S GAP 

I mean 'tis mine (for I'll no longer share it 
With you, the dear man mythical, supposed 
To read my verse, but can with ease forbear it); 
And creeping where the laurel arms are closed 
Above me, I go with the brook's song; mar it. 
No doubt, with lilting of my own that pushes 
Out of my heart and with the water rushes. 

What can I tell of that green way I wandered 
Save that each step seemed deeper than its brother 
In scented woods where vines and bushes squandered 
Berries of gold and sapphire with no bother 
Except to tell the Wind that deftly sundered 
Them from their hoard. If fairies saw him, sure 
They saw him stagger with the load he bore. 

And when I reached the valley my heart rumbled 
With ache of joy it sought to grapple fast. 
I was a creature with wild wings that fumbled 
For their lost sky; but forced to think at last 
That feet were good enough, I used them, humbled. 
So walking met a man quite unexalted. 
Who said the day was very hot. I halted. 

44 



SALL'S GAP 

"Sir," I began, "yon brook that meets the river. 

Must have a name full worthy beauty's wear; 

A name that like itself may sing forever 

In hearts that hear it. Happy be our care 

To find a name that melody can never. 

No never can forsake for anything 

More sweetly sounding." He stood wondering; 

Then spoke too loud, I thought. "Sail's branch? 

You'd name it? 
It 's got a name 'at's good enough for me." 
"Sail," I began, but could not quite defame it, 
My stream of beauty, with such mockery — 
"She was an Indian woman with a claim 'at 
Lay yonder in Sail's Gap. You see it, lady? 
They're both named after her." And "good-day," 
said he. 

He went ; I stayed. What was the use of mov- 
ing ? 
The world from bondage could not be delivered 
While men were dead to Beauty; gross, unloving 
To all her gifts. My body burnt and quivered. 

45 



SALL'S GAP 

YouVe felt it too, — that hot despair of proving 
Man worth your dream, or any light you bring; 
Of saving Europe, or of anything. 

Then came a thought that through my gloom shot 

brightly; 
A thought of him, the wise man of the hill; 
Tall, thin and old, and used to thinking rightly; 
Whose age showed fires of gentle splendor still. 
We'd change that name ! My step again was 

sprightly, 
As off I hastened, dropping a stern mutter; 
We'd change that name, — that name I could not 

utter ! 

He knew the stars, and looked like one who knew 

them. 
He knew the earth too, which was somewhat more; 
He knew the flowers, and as his children grew them; 
But best he knew the mountains and their lore. 
I told him all. He plucked two pinks and threw them 
Into the shadows by his little door; 
And I repeated what I'd said before. 

46 



SALL'S GAP 

My words were wrestlers In a silence spreading 
Until I felt it thicken through the valley; 
And still no sound, no answer to my pleading; 
But once he rose, and lengthened magically 
Until his face seemed in the heavens receding. 
"And beauty — beauty — " trailed I, overtasked, 
"And you would die for it?" he sudden asked. 

Then told the story while I listened dumbly. 
"For thirty years she lived there near the sky. 
Men sought her out, for she was gay and comely, 
But none could win her; so her youth went by. 
And when her tribe was driven forth, she humbly 
Begged leave to die where every wild thing knew 

her, 
And every tree and green thing nodded to her. 

"It was not granted. She must travel westward. 
She plead to stones, not to good men and true, 
In vain she sought to linger there sequestered. 
And hid and starved one long white winter 

through. 
They hunted her, and deep the rancor festered 

47 



SALLYS GAP 

Till troops went up. If she would not forsake her 
Wild home so strangely loved, by God, they'd 
make her !" 

His voice crept through the shadows like a ferret. 
"They found her cabin by the brooklet's head; 
Her spring you stumbled on; and standing near it. 
The tree where swung her body. She was dead 
An hour before they came. I know her spirit 
Has never left the mountain, — never shall. 
Her name was Star-in-rain; they called her Sail." 

His eyes were shut. I slipped away not speaking. 
She starved. And I, had I not somewhat yearned 
For supper coming down ? Trespasser peeking ! 
Night on my forehead was a paw that burned. 
Across the gap a loosened star went streaking. 
Sail's gap? Sail's brook? So may they ever be! 
I set this down for meddlers likest me. 



48 



TWILIGHT UNDER BLACK CAP 

It is the month of Spring's full star. 

Now Redwing makes each thicket his, 

And now the apple blossom is 
The oriole's honey jar. 

The road flows down with bend and whirl; 
(They take it who to market go;) 
Flows, ripples, flies and falls, as though 

The mountain wore a curl. 

Great shadows drop and darker stare. 
Slow nestling down like giant birds. 
And silent worlds with baflled words 

Tap at the door of air. 

One brown field sleeps, where row to row 
We laid the corn in furrow house 
Before the lighted dogwood boughs 

Might drop their stars of snow. 

A bullbat measures downily 

His wheeling watch above the wood, 
49 



TWILIGHT UNDER BLACK CAP 

And a Golden owl drifts down a rood 
Beyond her chestnut tree. 

Yon grim, unpassioned peak where wades 
An early star in swelling night, 
Can reel with berries, drunken bright, 

And laugh with lowland raids. 

And that ravine where waters sound. 
And hemlock trees cloud duskily. 
Is neither dread nor dark to me. 

But sweet as maying ground; 

For once a belted kingfisher 

Drew Love and me with sapphire flaunt 
Far up the stream, a fairy's jaunt. 

On moss as soft as fur. 

II 

Above the dawn I leaned in fear 
To see him ride the gray mist down. 
Safe be the road to market-town, 

My phantom wagoner ! 

50 



TWILIGHT UNDER BLACK CAP 

I watched until the sun set high 
His cedar fires on Black-cap Spur; 
Till far below the valley blur 

Shone like a tangled sky; 

Then to the full day, swift and meek, 

I turned, and not alone; 

For safely, softly, half unknown. 
Love moved at hide-and-seek. 

Against my apple-basket spread. 
The book he loved lay as I pared; 
And the bardic gold again we shared 

As goldenly he read. 

The spoon he carved, — brown wood inlaid 
With whitest holly — leaf and wren- — 
Whirred in my bowl and sang again 

The song the carver made. 

And dipping water from the spring, 
The stone-crop set in mossy cleft 
Held up its stars, — his woodland theft, 

There for my wondering. 

51 



TWILIGHT UNDER BLACK CAP 

At last a rifling hour I spent 

By beds in flower, with ruthless knife 
Where blossom clans were saucy rife, 

And as I silent bent 

Thought came of how he said "Let be 

The valley lilies by the door; 

They are the flowers that you wore 
The day you came to me." 

I rose, with strange remembering; 

Again my heart was high and lone; 

Then stood as quiet as a stone 
With eyes upon my ring. 

Let Fortune bless as Fortune can, 
Fame show her face nor hide again. 
Still is supreme the white hour when 

The woman goes to man. 

And blithe the way of thorn and furze, 

And royal then a rustic part. 

If he but bear a singing heart, 
And all that heart is hers. 
52 



TWILIGHT UNDER BLACK CAP 



III 

Now every flower Is a bride's 

In Twilight's hair. Soon she will sleep, 
And fingers of the moon will creep 

Along her paling sides. 

And up and up the flowing road 
A sound will greet me as I lean, 
Of wheels that climb and climb between 

The dark wings of the wood; 

On where the stream strives to the sea, 
A laughing god, in one white leap; 
And blossoms of the bloodroot keep 

Their candles milkily. 

On by the rhododendrons where 

Gay leaves will touch a cheek for me; 
On till the height has wrestled free 

And night lies blue and bare. 



S3 



TWILIGHT UNDER BLACK CAP 



IV 

O Beauty, most you love the Night ! 
And now you hold her like a mate, 
While all her moon-swept mountains wait 

As altar waits the rite. 

As still as they, for Love grown late, 
Watching the road that like a curl 
Drops flowing down with bend and whirl, 

As still as they I wait. 



54 



COMPACT 

The poplar trembles on the hill 
Where once you stood and said 
"When I am down for good or ill. 
Make here my mountain bed. 

"When from my green to your white door 
These leaves their signal pass, 
I'll quiet lie and listen for 
Your foot upon the grass." 

But now the sea has made your grave, 
Far from your hill that grieves; 
And I look down in every wave 
To beckoning poplar leaves. 



55 



LISTENERS 

Under the moon my ears 
Are eager for strange sound; 
A distant, dropping song 
That can not live 
Touching my common ground. 

Upward I strain to hear 

The moon*s own melodies 

Above the meadow choir 

And singing wood; 

More strange, more sweet than these. 

But songless is the moon; 
Silent and barren she 
Strains palely down to hear 
Sound of a silvered earth, 
Her star of melody. 



56 



TO A YOUNG GIRL 

Come years that yet are kind 
With wings to sail for me ! 

My errands in the sky 
Dome dancingly, 

While I, ere night, unbind 

Sore sandals, lay them by ! 

For me? Fate never willed 
Such store to those who lack. 
W^ho go to gather stars 

Do not come back 
With aprons golden filled 
For doubters at the bars. 

Fair runner, fleetly go ! 
Upon my mornings climb. 
Till on thy head are dews 

Not of my time; 
And if I lose thee so, 
'Tis riches so to lose. 

57 



ITALY 

(February, 1917) 

Thou art bleeding, Italy ! 
Rubies burn thy belting sea; 
Dripping rubies from thy heart; 
And afar we pale and start 
As we first had felt the blow. 

Little of our world we know, 
Little of her ways can read; 
Lies her head we know not where; 
Or her shifting hands and feet; 
But her heart we know is set 
(Like a song within a deed. 
Like a jewel all may wear,) 
Golden warm in Italy; 
And there wounded we must bleed. 

Bleed with thee, O Italy ! 

Hot the tears that blind us; we 

58 



ITALY 

See no sin of all thy sins. 
All we know is in our veins; 
Veins that burn with hurt to thee. 
All we know is, thou dost call — 
That thou in the darkness strove, 
And the spear is in thy side. 
All we know is that we love, 
And the blows that on thee fall 
Fall as blows upon a bride, 
Italy ! 



59 



ASTRAY 

When I have wandered in the dusty way 

That farthest leads from beauty's path of cool; 

My spirit frayed, in suit of seamy day, 

And wit gone bare in cheap adventure's school; 

A wretched captive whom the gods enjoin 

To store poor nothing with laborious breath; 

Bowing my back with burden of a coin 

That will not toll me through the gate of death, 

Nor buy one dream to aid mortality 

To stay the ravage of eternal dearth, 

And with one star array my memory 

To shine an hour above the faded earth; 

I sink as one too weak for wish or cry. 

Glad of oblivion's shade before I die. 



60 



FATHERLAND 

Come fingered as a friend, O Death; 
Unfrock me, flesh and bone. 
These frills of smile and moan, 
These laces, traces all unpin; 
These veins that net me in. 
This ever lassoing breath, 
Remove from me. 
If here is aught to free. 

O Earth, I shall be fleet 

Upon thy hills; thy child at last. 

Waiting no feet; 

Thy roads all mine, and no white gate 

Inevitably fast. 

So free, so blest. 

To love thee till winds ultimate 

Have left thee, too, undrest ! 

To enter where thy banquets are 
When storms are called to feast; 
And find thy hidden pantry stair 
When Spring with thee would guest; 
6i 



FATHERLAND 

Into thine attic windows step 
From humbled Himalays; 
And round thy starry cornice creep, 
Waylaying deities. 

And this, my Earth, I know; 
Though for my hand 
Space hold out spheres like roses, and 
Like country lanes their orbits blow. 
If thou be green, and blossom still, 
Then I must downward go; 
Leave stars to keep 
House as they will; 
The winds to walk, or turn and sleep; 
Seas to spare or kill. 
Behind my back shall sunsets burn 
Bereft of my concern; 
Each wonder passed 
Shall feed my haste. 
Till I have paused as now, 
Beneath a bending orchard bough, — 
An April apple bough. 
Where Southern waters creep. 
62 



DEFIANCE 

Or dear or great they fall as grass; 
They go, and never come; 
And still we seek out ways to pass 
Beyond the tether of the breath; 
Still hope runs on from tomb to tomb 
Denying death. 

Set in us, Death, the fear of fears, — 
Some day there'll be no Spring; 
Tramp earth till every hill be bare, 
The hosts of life on mocking spheres 
Beyond the hills of Jupiter 
Will sigh and sing. 

You conqueror? Then a greater lot 

Doth he, the conquered, own; 

He looks into your eyes of stone, 

He hears you pass, an iron wing. 

But you, dark force, you know him not. 

Nor anything. 

63 



DEFIANCE 

What is the wind-flower's nod to you 
Whose Spring brings back no ghost? 
What is the harebell's shaken blue, 
Rocking again within my heart? 
What are the tulip sails high-tost 
Where suns depart? 

You nothing see when Youth, the seer. 

Dies proud against a wall; 

Blind yet when eyes of friends long true 

Meet in your shadow; even there 

Fill with a light undoing all 

That you can do. 

A sage speaks clear as bells that make 
A gold lake of the air; 
On heart and lips that dared, you set 
The heavy earth; but waiting where 
A world's two ways their parting take, 
Men listen yet. 

A poet walks; you haste to cut 
The breath of flame and dew, 

64 



DEFIANCE 

And doors of vision fumble shut; 
But words of his, as bright as tears, 
Have lit like birds on all the years 
Time holds from you. 

Who knows how lone the sea must flow, 

Is lonelier than the sea; 

A greater than the hills is he 

Who feels them pass from sand to sand; 

And who knows Death, to Death may go 

With almoner's hand. 

Or dear or great they fall as grass; 
They go, and never come; 
But still we seek out ways to pass 
Beyond the tether of the breath, 
And hope runs on from tomb to tomb 
Denying death. 



6s 



II 



LAUGHTER 

The house of grief had no windows. 
The widow's tears fell like bitter acorns, 
And the child kept touching her strange cheek. 
My dead friend's face was a cold lamp 
That Pain had lit and deserted. 

I took the high ridge homeward, 
But I did not get above the trees. 
They crowded me like too many gods. 
What had I to do in their world? 

Had my friend found the right planet? 
Or made another mistake? 
If I had known which was mine, 
I should have made haste to go. 

Below me in the dark lay the roof of a cottage, 
And through two little holes I could see firelight 
dancing. 

69 



LAUGHTER 

It was queer to look on hearthfire through a roof. 

Three glass balls met softly in the air. 

It was my laughter. 

The trees made room for me; 

The jostling gods were gone; 

Earth was warm; I was in my own place. 



70 



ON THE MOUNTAIN 

She passed like a running flame. 

He did not see her, but the leaves she touched 

Were edged with proud fire, 

And the wind blew haughtily all day 

Above her track. 

A deer by a spring looked at him and said 

Do you think you can overtake one 

Who is fleeter than I? 

And drank and nibbled as if Autumn had not come 

With Winter under her apron. 

The deer knew that high up 

All the leaves were brown. 

And the wind whipped them sullenly, 

And a trail of white ashes lay in the road; 

But he who was only a man, ran on. 



71 



I TAKE A WALK 

I SEE that the mountain is breathing to-day. 

A white mist rolls upon it; 

And suddenly my heart is the mountain. 

My green trees, like children, 

Snatch at the climbing mist. 

It curls with laughter and moves on. 

I must wait until it is weary 

And creeps into a hollow of the mountain's arm. 

Before my heart can be only a heart again. 

I come to a clear spring in the woods. 
And stoop to see what has made the small track 
In the soft earth. 
A raccoon has been drinking here. 
Leaving a print like a baby's foot; 
Five tiny drops for toes. 
And a little heel watching them. 
My heart goes slipping through the bushes 
To a home in the laurel, and I wait 

72 



I TAKE A WALK 

Till the sun has gone through the highest pine-top 
Before I can quite get it back. 

Cliffs thrust themselves up, 

Dripping with ferns; 

The rocks elbowing through 

Like gods that could not hide themselves 

When the earth got too old for them. 

And I must stand here till my heart 

Has felt the ice of a million winters 

And the thaw of a million summers, 

And birds and beasts that men have never seen 

Come out of the fissures, and look down from the 

ledges. 
Begging for parley with a world 
That never relents or gives quarter 
At the end of a day. 

I come out of the woods to the sea; 

And my heart is away, knowing no walls; 

Itself the unanswered sea 

That inquires of all shores; 

Pleading with the temperate, silent sands; 

73 



I TAKE A WALK 

Tearing at the dumb, blue North, 

Tooth against its tooth in icy duel; 

Entreating down the long triangular South; 

A suppliant creeper, 

Making the fragrant ambit 

Of mid-world islands, 

Floating her crinkled moons 

A gift before her; 

Overrunning the cup of the Gulf; 

Hurling an upright tide. 

And grinding out no answer 

From a city tossed to driftwood. 

Beseeching or furious. 

Day and night the questioner. 

And I would die for want of sleep 

If I did not stumble away. 

And let my heart creep after me. 

Once more small and safe. 

I lie down on the ground; 
Rich, brown soil is my pillow; 
And a violet near my eyes is taller than Fuji. 
74 



I TAKE A WALK 

I hide under the blue mountain and rest; 
But I had come out to walk. 

Now this is my prayer, O my saints ! 
Stop my heart from all this, 
So that I can get somewhere. 



75 



THE GOD 

All day we have climbed 
The high wold of the winds, 
My lover and I. 

We have raced on the flinty ledges, 
Our shoulders like twin prows 
Cutting the mist; 
On the upward rocks 
Our steps rang together; 
Together our thoughts 
Pushed at the yielding horizon; 
And the hollows that gave us rest 
Caught and tossed as one breath 
Our laughter. 

But I fear the night. 

When sleep, the unmasker, 

May reveal him a god. 

He will lie unapproachably still. 

Returned to himself, 

76 



THE GOD 

Listening above my earth. 

Whispers will drop from the stairs of the night, 

Swimming the dusk leagues 

To the shore of his dreaming, 

But not for me, humble in the moonlight, 

Making a hyacinth wreath 

For the brow of my god. 

Night, and he sleeps. 

The day, like a tinted mantle, 

Has slipped from the smooth, white body; 

The day of valor and vision. 

When my veins were a tide for his thirst. 

When his heart was a lake at my lips. 

Heedlessly his cheek 

Brushes oblivion; 

His features lie tender as rest; 

As a flower from its conscious stem fallen, 

Unaware of wild winds. 

The lips curve free as a child*s; 

No whispers from the sky 

77 



THE GOD 

Nest and knock at the pale round of his ear; 

Only in me is there stir, 

A quiver like the faint unrest 

When a world is begun. 

I lift my hand to the wide night, 

Lest the dark fall upon him; 

With my brooding shoulders, stronger than hills, 

I bend back the winds; 

I, patient with the babble of gods; 

Unconcerned with the gossip on the stairs of the 

night; 
Making a cradle of the vast, dusk leagues; 
And my careless foot 
Is on the hyacinth wreath, 
As my kisses shatter the light on his hair, 
The hair of my little child. 



78 



WE CREATORS 

Let us go on with experiments; 
Let us dare and dream and do; 
Some day we may make a world 
With a buttercup in it, 
Or a swallow's wing. 



ATTENTION 

And if a daisy look at me, 

The wheeling world 

Seems then to stand 

Contentedly 

At journey's end. 



79 



TWILIGHT 

The mountains lie in curves so tender 
I want to lay my arm about them 
As God does. 



WHEN LYING ON A BANK OF 
TWIN-FLOWERS 

The pain of my crude body 
Has become fragrance, 
And fragrance, finer than longing, 
Has become my pain. 



80 



EVVIE'S MOTHER 

She took the last egg out of the basket. 

"I'll warm a little 'fore I go," she said; 

And pretending not to know 

That Spring had tip-toed through my window 

And put out my fire, 

She drew her chair hearthward. 

I glanced at the hovering shoulders 
That made my kitchen seem too big and com- 
fortable. 
And scoured a milk-jar the second time. 
She watched me through her eyelids, 
And sure of my sheltering indifference. 
Began : 

**Evvie an' Judd got off this mornin*. 
Judd hauled their thimbleful o* stuff 
Round by the wagon road yisterday, 

8i 



EVVIE'S MOTHER 

An' they set off afoot over the mountain. 

Evvie was limpin', 'count o* that ketch in her back. 

But Judd was totin* all the bundles. 

He thinks he's goin' to be good to her; 

I'll 'low him that. 

"I reckon it was easy walkin* to her own 
home, 
Even a limpin'. 

I've kept 'em eight months now. 
An' Evvie wanted to get moved and shaped up 
'Fore the baby come. 

"Ef she wasn't so little. . . . 
Girls used to marry at fifteen an' hold out at it. 
But I don't b'lieve they's as little as Evvie. 

"She says she'll be satisfied, 'cause it's Judd. 
But she don't like that lonesome creek 
Down there in the fork o' the mountains. 
It's enough to make an owl hoot in daylight. 
That place is; 

An' Evvie '11 be by herself a lot. 

82 



EVVIE'S MOTHER 

"The shack's more'n a mile from anybody. 
It's on northy land too, so laurelly 
It'd tangle a wild hog. 
Judd's folks live the nighest, 
But they've never took to Evvie. 

"'Tain't fair to call her spiled, 

But she's used to bein' made up to; 

Hearin' all her life how purty she was, 

An' her father bein' sort o* foolish about her. 

When she went to school an' had that wheezin' in 

her chest. 
He used to meet her, pushed as never was, 
An' tote her halfway home pick-a-back. 

"When Judd ast for her I said 

He was big and strong, he'd take keer of her; 

An' her daddy said yes, he was big as a house 

An' strong as an ox, 

An' that's what he was afraid of. 

"Evvie can sew an' cook. 

An' keep the house redd up nice, 

83 



EVVIE'S MOTHER 

But I got to say it she ain*t much in a crop. 

She'll drag the hoe ever' time. 

An' that's why Judd's folks don't like her. 

His mammy said Evvie'd learn something 

Ef she tried settin' down 'round her 

When the weeds was jumpin' in the corn. 

*Purty won't fill the meal-sack,' 

That's what she told Judd, an' Evvie heard her. 

"Judd promised he wouldn't push her 

Faster 'n she could go; 

Leastways not now; but he's got a hard eye, 

Blacker 'n dark o' the moon, 

An' I've seen him look. . . . 

"Limpin* now, an' got two months more. 
But Judd was totin' the bundles. 
Maybe it'll work out." 



84 



PACE TUA 

I WAKE, and look about me. 

I thought I had cleared everything out of my room. 

So that my mind, catching on nothing, 

Would go sailing In a clear sky 

For the eaves over the horizon. 

But there is that Corot photograph, 
Left me by a rambling, starving artist; 
Starving for Paris, — O God, 
Have I got to go to Paris this morning? 

And that bowl, like the bark of a tree, 

With a lizard climbing on it, — 

A young Indian of Yellow Hill 

Made it and sold it for fifty cents. 

He bought tobacco, and is lying under a tree 

Making smoke-rings and dreaming 

Of more bowls and tobacco. 

God bless him, I could think of him all day ! 

8s 



PACE TUA 

That box, — yes, three chocolates left. 

Where are the girls that dipped them. 

Singing and swearing and wondering about their 

dates ? 
Shoo away, girls, before I find out that one of you 
Is infected with dreams and ambition; 
The kind that heave the world, 
Down under mud and stones; 
And get people out of bed, 
As far as the bath-tub anyhow. 

That rug, — the old woman in the next cove 
Dyed it with pecoon root and dogwood bark. 
Granny Whitt, who sheep-hunted all over these 

hills 
Till she was eighty-two, 
And sold wool to the women with looms and 

wheels. 
I saw her once on a rock under a pine. 
It was foggy morning before sun-up. 
And she looked like a slim, grey feather 
Standing upright. 

86 



PACE TUA 

She had a daughter named Zinnia; 

Big, like her forefathers, and lovely and silent. 

Made you think of Autumn, and warm rain. 

She married a half-breed Cherokee, straight and 

strong. 
He was jealous of a white man; 
Hid in the laurel, and shot him; 
Cut out his eyes and brought them to Zinnia. 
She lived two weeks, and left twins an hour old. 
They hung him, under a bridge. 
He had a felon on his finger; 
They tore it open dragging him to the bridge. 
The noose didn't work well. 
They hung him around dark, and at three o'clock 

in the morning 
Two tramps crossed the bridge and ran. 
Because they heard groans. 
If you ever had a felon — 

The twins are big enough now 

To climb the long hill from Granny Whitt's 

And play in my yard. 

87 



PACE TUA 

One day — Narrative, narrative ! 
Shall I slop into your easy path. 
And trickle on? 

You may drain any river 
And find three garnets. 

There's a garnet in this poem. 
If you go after it with a dredge. 



88 



SNOW IN THE COTTON FIELD 

The cotton stalks rattle 
Their dead leaves jauntily; 
But looks of dismay- 
Are cast furtively downward 
At a thick, white world 
That needs no more of their labor. 



THE POEM 

Li T*ai Po was making a poem about death. 
When death moved through his life like a glacier 
And ground away all his pretty words. 
And ever after when a friend would come to him 

saying, 
"I will read you my poem about death," 
Li T'ai Po would answer, 
"I can not hear you, friend; the North wind is too 

loud." 



90 



AUGUST EVENING 

The shadows of the mountains stretch cool on the 

valley, 
Making a shore for the scented waves 
From the fallen reefs of hay. 

A hundred white moths drift homeless 
Above the cropped grass, 
Silent as patience and wonder; 
But the tiny, hopping meadow-moles barb the air, 
Making a new Saga of the scythe that unroofed 
them. 

If I walk alone round the curve of the lake, 
With a step like lapping water. 
Till I pass the house of the beavers, 
And sit carved in twilight. 
Shall I hear a blue crane cry? 



91 



ADVICE 

The moss on your apple trees 

Will kill the struggling fruit, 

Writes my friend; and sends me a scaling knife. 

But I think that when I am a spirit. 

Who has forgotten how to eat. 

And come back to my trees, 

The struggling green moss 

Will be lovelier than the fruit; 

And I lay the knife away, 

Safely, where it will never hack and wound 

The creeping feet of Beauty. 



92 



ON CERTAIN STATE ADVISERS 
AND THEIR PUBLIC 

They are like my kind Serena, 

Who tiptoes to my bed 

And asks in tones with the lid cautiously on 

If she may do this or that. 

She thinks that if she whispers 

She can get her orders without awaking me. 



93 



THE ARCTIC GIRL 

The stranger that came from where the blue star 

shines 
Says that in his land the earth is green. 
There are tall sprouts that go up to the sky 
And birds build their huts in them 
And live there with their families; 
But the sprouts on the ground are short and thick, 
And kind to the feet. 
It must be a strange world, all green. 
With no white snow and blue ice. 
I should like to look at it once, 
A little at a time, with my eyes nearly shut. 
I will go some night the way the stranger went, 
Down toward the blue star. 
I may see a bird in the high green. 
Talking to his children. 
I will walk very carefully on the little thick 

sprouts; 
Then I shall come back to the smooth safe ice 
And the good white snow. 

94 



APOLOGY 

I WOULD not write a book, 

But I have a friend over the sea 

Whom I have never seen, 

And who does not know that he is my friend. 

He lives in a house of baked yellow clay, 

So old now that it is brown as the leaves 

The wind drops upon it. 

When he climbs the hill behind his cottage, 

And sits with his back to a bare oak 

With twisted, futile branches, 

And looks out on the ocean 

That makes far, drowned birds of his dreams, 

I want him to hold my book, and with returning 

eyes 
Confess to the speedwell and robins 
That they have a new comrade. 



95 



WHO SHALL MEASURE? 

From my highest hill 

I watched for Antares. 

Brief would be his glimmer 

Where the long line of mountains 

Duped the horizon 

With vague, rambling mist. 

And I shall never know 
If that was Antares* 
Eye on the earth-line, 
Or the gleam of a lantern 
The wild poet carried; 
For God who saw both 
Only laughs when I ask him. 



96 



KARTAJAYA 

Once in Golden Chersonese, 

The Yellow Land, 

Says the old Tamil poem. 

Lived Kartajaya making beauty's shoes. 

And one day he cried to Vishnu, 

"I am weary, O Life-weaver! 

Weary of princesses with unclad feet 

That never have enough of pearls and lambskin; 

Of beaded silk, and velvet that creeps in the 

night. 
Take a year from my days, O Life-weaver, 
And set me free for the work my soul loves." 
So Vishnu cut a year from his days 
And gave him the freedom of earth. 
For ten years he went hither and thither, 
Following his soul; 
But when the singer from far Tamil 
Came to Golden Chersonese, 
He found Kartajaya in his old place 
Making beauty's shoes. 



97 



TOLSTOI 

Put me a thought in the butterfly, will you? 
Let it garnish a thought, 
Or take the carcass away. 
I am more than eyes. 



98 



BURNING BRIDGES 

Come, friend, my soul; 

We are going to burn our bridges. 

Yes, I've been watching you, 

And this is the moment of courage, 

Of madness, of faith. 

We will burn them all; 

The shining bridges, built so carefully, 

Quarried from cliffs of pearl in the dawn. 

Where you have passed and lain untouched 

By the burning air of battle 

And the sooty drip of sweat; 

The iron bridges, that will bear all your trundling 

baggage; 
Stuff from your grandfather's attic; 
Cradles, and harps, and old books; 
Chests full of skulls, 
That are heavy only because they are so many; 

99 



BURNING BRIDGES 

The old wooden bridges, that creak and nearly 

drop you, 
Kept for sudden usage, 
Unconfessed in the shadows 
Of vines and stooping branches; 
The torch to them all ! 
Burn them quickly in your moment of fire. 

There are dens of twilight back there; 

There you are safe; 

Safe as a fox home from the hounds; 

And under cover you can get you little fox eyes, 

And claws that tingle for a goose 

Fat with corn. 

But you will go there no more; 

The bridges are burning. 

What is that little white thing 

Going up like a leaf in the smoke? 

Stay ! Don't leap back ! 

Don't dance like a dervish, trying to reach it. 

You thought you brought it with you? 

Well, you didn't, and it's gone. 

100 



BURNING BRIDGES 

Face about now ! 

Courage for strange clouds; 

Clouds with boiling green funnels 

Ploughing toward us; 

For terrors like drunken mountains 

Falling upon us; 

For conjurations making the ground tremble. 

Face about ! 

What is this, friend, my soul? 

A clean rain has swept the way for us; 

The clouds drift slowly, like puzzled sheep; 

Our feet fall young on the garnished path; 

The air is scented; 

We are nearing the manna fields. 

Behind us are no chasms, no charred wrecks. 

But a far plain, shimmering green and tender. 

Don't pause to wonder; come on; 

Miracles always happen, common as grass. 

When bridges are burnt. 



lOI 



Ill 



IN THE BLACK COUNTRY 
(Staffordshire, England) 

Hell hath its uses; here each mortar mouth 

Casts far as life some treasure dear to need; 
Welcome to men as ships the fruity South 

Sends to blown Arctic shores. These valleys 
bleed 
That others may be fair. In greener shires, 

Where glisten cots and byres. 
Manors and castles, or where farther bide 

Young Adam and his bride, 
What aching wants are banished by these despot 
fires ! 

Let Ceres bring sweet incense and blow white 
Yon furnace breath; for there flames leap to 
mould 
Her spears and harrows, chains and mattocks 
bright; 
There forge the gleaming blades that cut the gold 
105 



IN THE BLACK COUNTRY 

Of wide Australians fields when flow and wane 

Her harvest tides of grain; 
And shape for far, brown hands the hoe and spade 

To ruff some island glade, 
Or, chance be, turn the mellow sod in Argentine. 

Look to our left; bolts, rivets, girders, beams, 

That make our towers safe near wavering stars; 
Rods, pillars, shafts, that bridge unchallenged 
streams. 
Or bear a mountain's weight; unflinching bars 
That Time alone can bend; and fairy wire 

For violin and lyre, 
That shall from Music's heart stir her to break 

Dream's silence and remake 
That silence deeper: all are born of that white fire. 

And there ! Slack would the world go but for pins. 

Needles and button. When we lost our fur, 
Fishbone and threaded thorn helped us our sins 

To hide again, and modesty relure 
To walk with us. Now showering from here 
To every port o' the sphere, 
io6 



IN THE BLACK COUNTRY 

Go, tidying the world, slim bits of pointed sun, 

And on the daintiest one 
What maid at bridal thrift shall drop a happy tear? 

But see where cavern windows ghostly glow, 

As a dead dragon's eyes yet open burn. 
Stripped figures like strange beasts weave to and 
fro! 
And suddenly we know how beasts must yearn 
Who have no way out but to pass 

Through fire to the green grass. 
These strong, who for the weak make beauty sure, 

How long will they endure 
An earth of ashes and a sky of brass? 



107 



HOME 

He came, her hero crowned. 
Neat as a lily trim, 
She put slim arms around 
The hell of him. 

The horror with no name 
He looked on night and day, 
Though it met her like a flame. 
Her love would slay. 

Her soft hands, they should cling; 
Her kisses, they should wean 
Him from the strange, dark Thing 
That he had seen. 

And when his days grew mild, 
And he said "You let me go; 
But I forgive you, child; 
You did not know;" 
io8 



HOME 

She yet knew not her loss. 
His soul its shore would keep, 
And in no world would cross 
To hers asleep. 



109 



EN ROUTE 

Men of Earth, how goes our race ? 
Runners on a whirling ball. 
While the hounds of Nature chase; 
Tusk and fang behind us all? 
Reaching for the ravelled wind, 
And the pearls behind the rain. 
While oblivion's pickets bind 
Mouth and foot of all our slain. 

Not so fast we flee in time 
But diseases gnaw their fill; 
Yet do adders of the slime 
Slit the tendon vulnerable. 
Shouting dies on frozen breath; 
Singing fails with parching blood; 
And the patient watcher, Death, 
Ever waits his whiter food. 

Safety's arm must sweep the skies; 
Stars her belting filigree. 
Shall our blood-made boundaries 
no 



EN ROUTE 

Mark her throat and shut her eye, 
Till upon our blackened hearth 
Sets the forest foot, and lost 
Is the wild, escaping earth 
To man's shrunken, futile ghost ? 

Tongues of wisdom, are they dumb ? 
Cap and bells, not cap and gown? 
That two fingers give a crumb 
While our guns beat cities down? 
Science ours, we turn her blades 
Against our hearts, though Time yet lays 
For us his cosmic ambuscades. 
And yet shall launch his glacial days. 

Other hope than this we've none; 
Strength of all men's hands in two; 
Strength of all men's hearts in one, 
Clear of poison's ancient brew; 
Brew of lies more ghastly than 
Ever hag in midnight wood 
Mixed for Superstition wan. 
Giving her new, viler blood. 
Ill 



EN ROUTE 

Oh, what keys are in our power ! 
World in world no more may hide; 
We may bring the giants* hour; 
Hand and brain no goal denied. 
Browsing then in heaven's air; 
Stars our food and milky teat; 
And these salt fields of despair 
Gemmed and green, our laurelled seat. 

Though a frozen sun awaits, 
Dropsied with a glut of spheres. 
When the swallowed earth completes 
Cycle of her whirling years. 
We'll have saved eternity 
This greater thing, — a mind that won 
Its way to destiny's last play 
And lost the game to God alone. 



112 



THE COMING 

FAIR, free world ! For thee 

1 dreamed a festal birth; 
Tides flowing sunnily, 
And Beauty nursing earth. 

Thine advent, like a rose 
On a cursed and dying tree, 
Should make the winds lie close. 
And turn Time's head to see. 

On all the laughing roads 
No lack of song and bread; 
No stricken, hushed abodes. 
No drifts of tattered dead. 

But oh, *tis poverty 
That pays thy natal cost. 
And the grey hag, Misery, 
Is she who tends thee most. 
113 



THE COMING 

And they who knew thee not, 
May they forbearance win 
From the bleeding hands that brought 
Thee, pallid starveling, in ! 



114 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

I 

He shone, a fleshless glow 

That lit the coIumn^s base; 

A sprout of fire earth could not grow; 

A passion and a will 

Fed by a far, exhaustless grace 

From cruse invisible. 

Archbuilder of the word; 

But vision vain he flung 

Upward and outward like a bird 

That could not find a bough, 

Though knowing somewhere woods were young, 

Waiting the wing and vow. 

Vain, for the pallid crowd 

Motion nor motive knew. 

They, like the quick within a shroud. 

Seemed dead to all but Death, 

So still, so stonily they drew 

Their unsurrendered breath. 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

What of the father, God? 

Let him still turn and sleep. 

He had for them but curse and rod, 

And they would let him be. 

Old father Thames who drowned so deep 

Cared even as much as he. 

There, not to measure Him 

With rebel thumb and nail. 

Thwart curse and dare His whim, 

But like lost leaves upcast 

By meddling search of some chance gale, 

To huddle when *twas past. 



II 

Chiselled in haze and sun. 

So slimly fair aloft. 

The towers where Mammon staked and won, 

Solid, square-set and sure, 

Held to the sky their templed, soft 

Invincible allure. 

ii6 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

Vainly the prophet cried; 

He with the voice of ten; 

Vainly he said those gray stones lied; 

Mirage they surely were, 

To fade would men but tread as men, 

Knowing a stone from air. 

Fool ! Bowed my heart for him. 

Cabled to every land. 

Those phantom piles that towered dim. 

Were founded 'neath the sea. 

And would in might untrembling stand 

Till land should cease to be. 

For blood of Commerce runs 

Bold arteried as life. 

Her pennoned forts, her mounted guns, 

Are the palms on every coast; 

And dreams that stir to end her strife 

But armor new her host. 

These tattered shadows, rags. 
What could their blows attain? 
117 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

Soon prostrate as the thin marsh flags 
The strong salt runlets seek? 
Come, gods, and laugh again; 
Let's still be gay and Greek ! 

Ill 

As a mist tugs at a wood. 

Three sighs turned me about. 

Where gray as thought a woman stood, 

With eyes, sunk to a stare. 

Making a cavern of the clout 

That hid her brow and hair. 

Starved arms, yet sovereign, prest 

A bundled kingdom still. 

Was milk within that shrunken breast? 

I doubted till I saw 

A tiny hand that flashed me thrill 

From life's unthwarted law. 

A hand so slight, so white; 
Drift caught on shores of men; 
No gosling down could lie more light; 
ii8 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

How could it cling and stay? 
A snowflake falling on it then 
Had pushed it quite away. 

Yet mightily it held 

My soul in aching charm; 

Till I, white as itself, was stilled 

On mountains of surmise, 

Waiting with Time the high alarm 

For worlds to rock, and rise. 

A hand that yet so slight. 
From dreaming ooze had thrust 
The airward man; with unfelt might 
Had led from den and cave; 
And something made of body's dust 
That should not know a grave. 

IV 

No more the magic kept 
From my unseeing stare; 
Divine to faces gray it leapt, 
Godly transmuting them; 
119 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

Lit was the steaming, weary square, — 
Dreamers' Jerusalem ! 

O Self, how small thou art ! 

How soon thou wouldst be down. 

Past travelling, but for the part 

That greater is than thee 

Which thou in every babe dost own, — 

Thyself in men to be ! 

With set and paling lips 

We gain from ground to ground. 

From grave to comrade grave our steps 

Measure the mocking wild; 

But who would fall till he has found 

A green hill for his child? 

Has found a homeward lane, 
Willow and sycamore. 
Blue curl of smoke and south-blown vane. 
The wheat ears heavy and brown. 
Song and an open door. 
And a path to Athens town? 
1 20 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 



I bowed my heart, the fool, 

To lift it wise as they 

Who knew their own; no tragic tool, 

But life unlocked and free; 

Yet strange in every eye there lay 

Rebuking pain for me. 

Then from its dark my soul 

Rose to that light of pain. 

And heard at last those high words roll; 

"Hunger for bread is loss; 

Hunger for stars is gain; 

We change, not lose, the cross. 

"More shall the man-child have 

Than his filled granaries. 

The healing oil, the body's salve. 

These will concern him not. 

When as his breath they shall be his. 

And as his breath forgot. 

121 



BALLAD OF TRAFALGAR SQUARE 

"Yet hungering he shall spur, 

Quit of the wilderness 

Whose leaves are spears, whose bloody stir 

Fainter and fainter calls. 

While blue from blue horizons press 

And skies move back their walls. 

"Hunger he shall to the last, 
Mounting the conquered years; 
Know rack and sweet of spirit fast, 
Joy of its climbing pain. 
Till he inherit from the spheres; 
And what shall stand between ? " 

Upward earth's tremor ran; 

Volcanic throbbed the hours; 

No fear was in the heart of man; 

David with lifted sling; 

I looked again at Mammon's towers; 

God, they were quivering ! 



122 



IV 



INNIS-LOE 

You wake slowly at Innls-Loe 

If the year is at early March; 

For Innis-Loe is near the rice lands and the sea. 

Slowly, not breaking the cardinal's song 

That began in your sleep. 

If you do not interrupt him, 

Or tilt his twig when you throw back the blind, 

He will not call '*wet weather!" 

And you want to go to the pool in the woods 

When the sun can go with you. 

Kneeling its way through the dark pines. 

The shadows there are thick as walls. 

And as you go you will want to cling 

To a little finger of the sun. 

You step through the big window, 
Shaking the dreams from you. 
But they fall about your knees and feet, 
And you push along slowly 
Through the land of Aladdin. 
125 



INNIS-LOE 

You go by the barns where the mild folk live,, 

The big animals with soft eyes 

And four helpless feet; 

No hands that may carry guns and bayonets 

At the cry of the elders. 

The soft eyes question, but you can not wait. 

You come to the proud gardens 

And they quiver with welcome, 

But they do not hold you. 

The violets march purpling toward you. 

And become meekly blue when you pass. 

You've only a glance for the snowdrops. 

Nuns with no altar, 

Offering themselves to your feet; 

Only an upward nod for the climbing jasmine, 

And the wistaria's hanging clouds; 

For what is mere beauty 

When the great pines swell on the horizon, 

A black-foamed sea 

Whose voice is in your heart? 

The jasmine's gold is fakir's gold 
This year that is not of our Lord; 
126 



INNIS-LOE 

There is blood on the magnolia cups 

That meant to be so white; 

When they hold out their fragrance 

Your nostrils shrivel with the tang of blood 

That dried and turned black in Tulsa, 

In Elaine, in Mingo, and in places 

Where the sun would never shine if it knew. 

But deep in the vine-haired forest. 

Behind the black wall of the pines. 

The pool lies like a guarded maiden, 

And you hear her whisper: 

"Do not fear, little heart! 

Men took a world from my wilderness, 

And broke it as a plaything. 

But it is coming back to us. 

The keepers of life." 

And the green ropes of the running bamboo 
Echo along their tangled miles, 
**Do not fear, little heart; 
Our cables will hold." 



127 



RELEASED 

Leaving behind us the puddling swamp-woods 
With their spidery vines smothering the sun, 
And their slim, spinsterly cypress trees 
That spread suddenly toward the earth 
Like the skirts of 1890, 
We came to the bare, flat Carolina land 
Where the lemon haze of the hot horizon 
Crept closer and closer, like a circling tiger. 

The sun was a merciless burning-glass 

Fixed above us; 

The snake of smoke leaving the engine 

Tried to writhe away from it; 

And the cinders that bit and stung through the 

windows 
Seemed mad for refuge. 
Six cool peaches in a white split basket 
Could not please me. 
How long should we drag our bodies over the 

earth ? 

128 



RELEASED 

Scrubbing them, dressing them, taking them along 
With the mind pinned in them like Ariel In the 
tree? 

At a little dab of a junction 

The train gasped motionless. 

And the heat piled quivering about us. 

The tiny, square station rose on four wooden pins 

As sturdy as ambitious matches 

And strained vainly away from the dirt. 

Up and down the yellow pine walls 

The heat ran with a smoking dazzle, 

Making narrow slits of our eyes. 

The woman came out of that toasting box 
And climbed on the train. 
She had the face that marries at seventeen 
Out of wonder and wistfulness, 
And at twenty-seven Is mothering five. 
The five trailed with her, their hands clinging. 
Making a little human chain 

Fastened by the youngest, leech-wise, to her breast. 

129 



RELEASED 

She was so trim and tiny 

That she seemed made to hold life only; 

So small that she looked lonely in half my seat. 

Though the baby spread round the compass. 

Six times her body, and the heat ! 

But triumph hung over her. 

And adventure became speech. 

"Yes'm, I've been waitin' here five hours. 
I got a train at Bennettsville early daybreak, 
And had to change here at the junction. 

"Yes*m, it was hot in the station, 

Not cool like it is with the train goin*, 

But I got a good rest. 

I had to be up at three o'clock 

An' that's early for childuhn. 

"You're right, ma'am, they're good childuhn. 

Annie's a bit whiny, just over the fever, 

But the baby don't cry hardly at all. 

Though his father died two months befoh he was 

bahn. 
An' that makes a cryin' baby, they say. 
130 



RELEASED 

**0h, yes'm, I'm strong. 

I was up five nights with Annie, an' the heat made 

it bad. 
You don't feel one night, but five make the feet 

heavy. 
An' there was the baby needin' me by day. 
But seein' your child whiter *n her pillow 
Makes you hold out. 
You know how that is, ma'am. 

"Yes'm, I'm movin' down to Sumter. 

My brother wrote I could get sewin' down there. 

An' I've got to feed the childuhn somehow. 

Their father was a good man. 

He was a carpenter, an' folks liked his work; 

But there was so many to buy for it kept him 

pushed. 
I didn't go in debt for the funeral though. 
The furniture brought enough for that. 
He was a good man, an' all he made went to his 

fam'ly. 



131 



RELEASED 

"Yes'm, it's hard when the biggest can*t more*n 

wash himself. 
It was growin* twelve when I quit last night. 
All the little shirts and dresses to do up. 
An' gettin* out at three did cut into my sleep. 
But I've got this far, an* I like to travel, don't 

you? 

"No'm, Fm not pinin*. 

"No'm, Fm not afraid I can't raise 'em. 
Seems to me Fve got a chance now. 
The baby '11 soon be out o' my lap; 
An' — you see — there won't be any more.'' 

She whispered it. 
But I felt the words as a shout. 
The wilted face gleamed; 
She was Deborah singing. 



132 



THE SEA ASKS 

Long have I carried 

The bread of the world. 

Now my waves, rolling into the harbors, 

Lap the rust on the dying ships 

And emptily roll back. 

My busy, white-rimmed runners 

That went so cockily into the bays of Long Island, 

Hurried back in dismay, whispering under the wind 

Of the rows of ships locked together, 

Dully awaiting death. 

They had given them my message, — 

Of moons that would draw them through night 

With a thread of silver; 

Of suns with high, invisible hammers 

Beating their masts into hold; 

Of winds opening like the gates 

Of fair, floating cities 

^33 



THE SEA ASKS 

That my architects, light and color and cloud, 
Build and rebuild for their lovers that sail. 
But the ships could only quiver and sway 
Against their taut chains. 

Then I sent my great blue-green waves 

To the wide harbor of the West; 

My waves with broad shoulders and deep, swelling 

flanks, — 
Telling them to bear out the proud masts, 
Score upon score. 
They rolled back to me. 
And I felt in their curling surge 
The strange water of tears. 
For they bore no idols of venture; 
Only drifting waste from the dying hulls. 

To the river-mouths of Europe 
I urged my eager children. 
And felt their far wonder 
As they returned unladen. 
Line upon line they had seen the strong ships 
Stretching away till the gray lid of the sky 
134 



THE SEA ASKS 

Shut upon them; ships that would never leave shore 

Till they dropped from their chains 

And bit by bit came back to my bosom. 

Now 1 listen to my winds, 

And they tell strange tales to one 

Who has carried to and fro the bread of the world. 

They tell me of a land 

Where a mother faltered out to the roadside, 

And gathered dried grass to bake with clay, 

That her children, white and marrowless, 

Might grow more numb 

Under the fastened tooth of Death. 

And a tale of another land 

Where the grain and corn break from the bins. 

And men gaze on the harvest as on a ruin. 

For they can not sell, and land and roof 

Must go to the stranger. 

It is not ease after toil that awaits them; 

Debt and Fear shadow their door; 

Going and coming they feel a harrying hand 

Creep colder and closer to the heart. 

^3S 



THE SEA ASKS 

I hear of one — and another, and another, — 

Who looked over his fields with a last unhidden 

anguish, 
And cursing his hollow abundance 
Abandoned a life without hope. 

Why do the ships rot? 
Why have I nothing to do 
When hunger kills in the East 
And plenty kills in the West? 

It is not long since the ships 

Were a throng on my waters. 

They were carrying bright youths 

To slay and be slain. 

I ceased to count them as they sped in the service 

of Death. 
Why now are they still when Life would charter 

their wings? 
Life that cries as a child, 
That groans as a mother; 
That shields a last spark on a million brows 
While the death-frost gathers and the ships delay? 



THE SEA ASKS 

Once I slept and woke trembling, 

For I had dreamed of a rival. 

A voice grew in me and said 

That whatever I was, man was yet more. 

I was mystery, and he read me; 

Of my own salt drops he made a seer's crystal. 

I was terror and tempest, and he bored me through 

With an auger of light. 

My tides and deluding currents 

Were as his playing fingers. 

In me unrevealing. 

Nature no longer could hide her strange altars; 

Could not cover her defeats, 

And drown beyond angling query 

Her piled and broken gods. 

Now I Igiow the voice was false. 
Only a child would waste the sea. 

I have smoothed out my waves 
That ache for the touch of the keels; 
I have mated with the blue sky; 
137 



THE SEA ASKS 

My winds are feather fans half shut. 
O men, send me your ships ! 
Let me carry again 
The bread of the world. 



138 



TO JOHN REED 

You ought to have known better, John, 

Than to follow a star with the world on your toes. 

You thought you would find her little hand, 

The little hand of the world, 

And lead her up the mountain; 

But you forgot her great, stumbling toes; 

And that little hand was tucked away in filthy 

rags. 
She has had too many nurses; 
The headless nurse, with long claws. 
Always trying to drag her back to the cradle. 
And fight for her, killing all her friends; 
The fat, old nurse, weak in the back and eyes, 
Who keeps gathering up the rags the ages try to 

throw away, 
And wraps them about her; 
And the strong, skinny nurse. 
Who binds her like a mummy with ropes of words 
From ancient Rome and Greece and early England; 

139 



TO JOHN REED 

And with all that you thought you could find her 

little hand. 
And lead her up the mountain. 

But the rotten rags and ropes are falling; 

She hears you where you lie under her feet urging, 

urging; 
And some day she will thrust out the little hand 
And reach for your star, John. 



140